Jon Stewart’s Betrayal

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Politico has confirmed that on two occasions, Comedy Central’s Now I’m a comic-Now I’m a pundit-Now I’m a journalist Jon Stewart secretly went to the White House to meet with President Obama:

Jon Stewart slipped unnoticed into the White House in the midst of the October 2011 budget fight, summoned to an Oval Office coffee with President Barack Obama that he jokingly told his escort felt like being called into the principal’s office.In February 2014, Obama again requested Stewart make the trip from Manhattan to the White House, this time for a mid-morning visit hours before the president would go before television cameras to warn Russia that “there will be costs” if it made any further military intervention in Ukraine.

To engage privately with the president in his inner sanctum at two sensitive moments — previously unreported meetings that are listed in the White House visitor logs and confirmed to POLITICO by three former Obama aides — speaks volumes about Stewart and his reach, which goes well beyond the million or so viewers who tune into The Daily Show on most weeknights.

It mean rather more than that. The visits mean that what Stewart and Comedy Central represented to the public as independent commentary on public affairs by a wise, critical and trusted truth-teller was in fact state propaganda, dictated by the President of the United States to a messenger of influence.

Am I surprised? No. I am disappointed. Stewart was obviously biased to an extreme, but he didn’t exactly hide it. He almost exclusively mocked one political party and one set of politicians over the rest, and it was galling to read that so many citizens without ear hair or children regarded such a slanted source as their primary basis for forming their views of the world, but at least Stewart was, we were told, expressing his own comic sensibilities as filtered through his own ideological views. Both he and Comedy Central, and that political party he seemed to instinctively favor, knew that his influence on his audience would be far less powerful if Stewart’s fans believed that he was coordinating his routines with the government, in essence manipulating public opinion to support Obama policy initiatives.

As long as Stewart was truly speaking his mind and nobody else’s, I could respect his talent and even his motives, though I never respected his mutated brand of faux-journalism without accountability or principles, the product of the “clown nose on, clown nose off” act he mastered. Journalists at least are supposed to have a code of ethics. Ethical journalists are supposed to be transparent and reveal their conflicts of interest up front; they are pledged to be factual, to challenge entrenched power, to be on the side of the public at all times, and to investigate and expose clandestine activities that affect the nation, not to be party to them. Comedians do not have any ethical restrictions, but its harder to laugh at the jester when we know he is in league with the king, and not really devoted to mocking him.

Stewart’s secret coordination with the President is, in a word, disgusting, and in a second, third and fourth word, a betrayal of trust, even though those who trusted him are likely to give him a pass, in part because they don’t care about ethics. It’s fascinating to read the excuses pouring out of Stewart fans in the comments to Mediaite’s story about the Obama-Stewart confabs. “What about Fox News?” “You don’t think Rush Limbaugh coordinates with the Republicans?” “What difference could a couple of Daily Show episodes make?”  and more. They are all rationalizations. The fact is that we now know Stweart was just one more cog in the giant propaganda  machine that included Al Sharpton, MSNBC, Media Matters, The New York Times, the network news divisions and others, while he was posing as a clever, critical, open-minded commentator who rejected all the bullshit in the news. He was, in reality, part of that bullshit. That represents massive hypocrisy. There is no way to spin it.

Stewart, of course, was not trained as a journalist, nor as an ethicist, nor as a political scientist. He was a chemistry and a psychology major who has said that he spent his college days playing soccer, copying notes from other students and getting stoned. Before becoming a stand-up comic, he was a low level bureaucrat and a puppeteer. He has no discipline or ethical foundation for what he does, and his influence far outran his training, character and intellect. Of course he was ripe for recruitment into the game of shells and shadows known as the Obama administration.

Nonetheless, he appeared on “The Daily Show” in the role of a truth-telling social critic who would skewer the powerful when they earned it, and whose barbs would keep his audience from being deceived and manipulated—and he was really part of that manipulation.

The truth-teller was a liar, and that’s not funny.

78 thoughts on “Jon Stewart’s Betrayal

  1. It mean rather more than that. The visits mean that what Stewart and Comedy Central represented to the public as independent commentary on public affairs by a wise, critical and trusted truth-teller was in fact state propaganda, dictated by the President of the United States to a messenger of influence.

    .

    Did I miss something in the article you posted? What I do not understand is how the meeting, or meetings, can or should be described as secret coordination. How do you know that?

    All these statements have semantic value that is questionable:

    “Inner sanctum”
    “Slipping in unnoticed”
    ‘Summoned”
    ‘Hours before the president would go on TV”

    Most if not all of this looks to me like innuendo.

    To then imply – no, state outrightly – that Stewart is engaged in channeling ‘state propaganda’ seems almost libellous, and unethical by conventional standards.

    What sort of an ethical platform do you operate from? I do not get it.

    • I’m sure the above argument will get torn apart in short order by the rest of the commentariat here, but for my part (and my smoke break):

      What Jack is referring to with those terms is the appearance of impropriety and the likelihood of impropriety.

      An unannounced meeting with the most powerful man in the world, when other similar meetings are almost always announced, creates a clear appearance of impropriety. Especially when part of your job is to be critical of that man when he deserves to be criticized. It creates and leaves unanswered questions like: What was going on in that meeting? Why wasn’t it announced? What possible motivation could there be for it to not be announced if the meeting was benign to public and professional interests? Questions that cast doubt on the motivations and acts of all involved.

      The timing of the meeting and the unspoken but clearly expressed ideological bias of the self-styled truth-teller creates a high likely hood of actual impropriety in that meeting. Especially with the above questions unanswered by both sides.

      The core of your criticism is that Jack doesnt have evidence of impropriety so he can’t claim ethical foul with his argument or word choice. That criticism is weak. For reasons that have been well covered elsewhere here and across history, appearance and likelihood of impropriety are just as worthy of ethical criticism as actual provable impropriety.

      • It mean rather more than that. The visits mean that what Stewart and Comedy Central represented to the public as independent commentary on public affairs by a wise, critical and trusted truth-teller was in fact state propaganda, dictated by the President of the United States to a messenger of influence.

        So, what the above actually means is:

        What Jack is referring to with those terms is the appearance of impropriety and the likelihood of impropriety.

        .
        Where do I get my EthicsAlarms Decoder Ring? 😉

        • No, it is the fact of impropriety, exactly as I stated it: “what Stewart and Comedy Central represented to the public as independent commentary on public affairs by a wise, critical and trusted truth-teller was in fact state propaganda.”

          I decode what you wrote as pure spin, because that’s what it is.

        • Snark lacking substance. Why is this not a clear case of unethical appearance of impropriety or likely impropriety?

          • Journalists, of the old school of ethics (that is, ethical journalists), would refuse to socialize of accept anything of value from someone they would be reporting on, knowing that to do so would be to risk objectivity and the trust of readers. If they met with an official, it was to get information, usually on the record, no promises.Since Stewart is an opinion journalist and not a reporter, there is no valid reason for him to be feted at the White House. His options were to go and disclose it, or not to go at all. Doing neither of these means the meeting was unethical on both ends.

              • What? Every celebrity who meets with the President puts out a PR release or a selfie or both…unless there is a reason not to. What’s the reason, deery? Give me a single benign reason a celebrity would not want it known that the President invited him for a one-on-one. No tweets, no Facebook posts. “Gee, I forgot: Obama invited me to the White House.”

      • As I said to Chris I am open to new views, but I am not convinced. That does not mean that I could not be convinced.

        Additionally, I disagree that what I wrote could be called ‘spin’. I point to the semantic value of certain words and phrases and I say that this is a classical example of rhetorical speech. I do not and cannot disagree that there is a possibility of inappropriateness in a private meeting with the Pres., and as Chris explained the impropriety may indeed be condemnable. But what I wrote, and why I wrote it, is substantive critique, fair, upfront and direct.

        • Spin: an effort to frame an event so as to avoid negative implications using vague words and equivocal characterizations. The President of the United States employed the power and prestige of his office to influence a powerful social critic, and both he and the critic failed to reveal that meeting to maximize its effectiveness at achieving that goal. An audience with the President is a gift—if it could be sold (and it has been) it would be worth 6 figures or more to some people. Social critics who are determined to be objective do not accept gifts from potential targets, or, if they do, they reveal them.

          This speaks for itself.

      • They can’t tear it apart. It happened. It should not have happened, and if it did, it should have been disclosed. The meeting itself was improper. There is no legitimate reason for the President to be sucking up to a social critic, except to influence the criticism.

        “Most transparent Administration ever.”

      • I do not pretend to any knowledge of how meetings are scheduled at the White House, if they are all recorded in a log and ‘public’, nor if it is a historical precedent that they all are recorded and public. If was a ‘secret meeting’ and Stewart was smuggled in, I suppose that strengthens your aspersion.

        • Nonsense. “Keeping a record” and “secret” are not mutually exclusive. Did Stewart reveal the meeting? no. Why not? An entertainer would usually broadcast such a meeting, have photos.

    • I was coming here to write the same thing Alizia. There is no evidence of coordination, just of non-official meetings. I know the President meets regularly with David Brooks, who is considered a conservative.

      Ta-Nehisi Coates also wrote recently about going to the White House for one of those non-official meetings that Obama has with journalists. He basically told the President he was disappointed in him, and urged him to do certain things better. If the plan was to take marching orders ,he apparently wasn’t doing too well with it. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2015/07/ta-nehisi-coates-between-the-world-and-me.html

      The first time Coates met the president, at an off-the-record White House conversation with liberal opinion writers in 2013, he left disappointed in himself. “Everyone was too deferential, and I was too deferential, too,” he said. The second time, a few months later, he was determined to do better. Coates had been reading Baldwin’s 1963 book, The Fire Next Time, and as he left his home in Harlem for the train station, his wife, Kenyatta Matthews, said to him, “What would Baldwin do?” On the train to D.C., Coates thought about the off-the-record 1963 meeting that Baldwin had brokered between Robert Kennedy and leading black activists, at which Kennedy felt the full force of black anger. (“They seemed possessed,” Kennedy would later say.) Coates arrived at the White House late and, because he had not prepared for rain, wet. He was not wearing a suit but a blazer and jeans. The president was going around the room answering questions on a wide range of topics, handling each expertly, in Coates’s view.

      “And the race aspect is not gone from this,” Coates said. “To see a black dude in a room of the smartest white people and just be the smartest dude in the room — it just puts into context all the stuff about ‘Let me see his grades.’ ”

      Occupying Coates’s mind were the racial dimensions of universal health care. It had become apparent, as reporters dug through Census data, that as Republican governors opted out of the federal government’s expansion of Medicaid, blacks and Hispanics would be disproportionately left out because of where they lived. Coates wanted the president to take more targeted action to counter this — to make the policy acknowledge race and not just class. Obama said that progressives were doing the best they could. At a certain moment, Coates became self-conscious. “This dispute happens, and all the other journalists are saying, ‘Oh my God, the two black dudes are fighting.’ ”

      As the meeting ended, Obama pulled Coates aside. On his blog, the writer had criticized the president for suggesting, during a speech on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, that many African-Americans had “lost our way” and calling for more personal responsibility. The president told Coates he had been unfair. As he was walking away, Obama turned back and said, “Don’t despair.”

      I think the President likes an informal give and take with journalists, rather than the “gotcha” questions and soundbites he gets when he has the televised press conferences.

      • The meeting is improper, and to be presumed as an effort to influence commentary unless it is disclosed. Secret meetings are secret for a reason. If Brooks met with the President and then wrote a column supportive of the a policy initiative, that would also be improper.

        Your argument is just a variation on “everybody does it.”

          • See, that’s blatant spin. The fact that there is a record doesn’t make a meeting less secret. Lawyers are required to keep confidential information about clients that may be in public records, because absent disclosure, no one is likely to find out about it. Same here. When a meeting is buried in logs and nobody knows to ask for the record of it, it is still secret for all intents and purposes.

        • The meeting is improper, and to presumed as an effort to influence commentary unless it is disclosed. Secret meeting are secret for a reason.
          But it isn’t secret. Their names are on the logs, as is Stewart’s. All participants can be asked, and if they choose to, disclose what went on in the meetings. As seen above, some have done so. It seems like an informal pow-wow so some print journalists can ask the President questions without the high stakes glare of the television, or the formality of a press conference. If what Coates wrote is illustrative of other meetings, and it seems to be, it doesn’t appear that any marching orders were given at the non-secret meetings.

          • So? Why weren’t they announced? Is Jon Stewart not an entertainer? Does he not have the eye for self promotion in show business? Why wasn’t a meeting between two prominent figures in popular culture more widely covered? Is it just not interesting? Not Instagram or Facebook worthy?

            No, a deliberate meeting of two people who enjoy the amount of recognition and popularity that these two men have, never goes down without fanfare unless they want it to. What they did do was the government equivalent of putting a widely relevant notice in a rarely used corridor. Public but not the kind of public that actually matters. And in this case considering Jon’s public persona and professional interests, there is no ethical reason for it.

            • You got it, RPE. And Politico, which is hardly Obama/Stewart averse, gets it. The story just rankles the same people who wanted everyone to believe that Stewart spent 85% of his time bashing Republicans and conservatives because that’s just a fair and objective conclusion on the facts, not that he was as partisan and biased as Media Matters.

            • “Not announced” is still different than “secret”. You seem to want to impose an affirmative duty of publicity upon Stewart. He is under no ethical obligation to do so. Anyone who was actually interested could look it up. We know about this meeting because someone did so.

              This whole story is heavy on the innuendo, and light on the facts. “OMG, someone met with the President, but didn’t put out a press release about it. They must be under the control of the White House!!!!!”

              If given the nature of journalist meetings went they were described upthread, mostly as a question and answer session, I don’t see the harm, or how they are particularly unethical.

              • “OMG, someone met with the President, but didn’t put out a press release about it. They must be under the control of the White House!!!!!”

                Exactly. The gap between the evidence presented and the conclusions drawn in this story would be expected from World Net Daily, but not from Ethics Alarms.

  2. “The visits mean that what Stewart and Comedy Central represented to the public as independent commentary on public affairs by a wise, critical and trusted truth-teller was in fact state propaganda, dictated by the President of the United States to a messenger of influence.”

    That strikes me as quite a leap of logic. The secret meetings certainly don’t reflect well on Stewart, but there’s no evidence that Stewart took any instructions from the White House about how to run his show.

    • This is closer to a legitimate criticism. Jack may have presented that with too much certainty. Having said that, once he qualifies it with something like “Imagine if” or “It creates the appearance of” the support it offers and the larger ethical argument that he’s making remain unchanged. This is more of a technical quibble than a your-ethics-analysis-is-wrong quibble.

      • This is closer to a legitimate criticism. Jack may have presented that with too much certainty. Having said that, once he qualifies it with something like “Imagine if” or “It creates the appearance of” the support it offers and the larger ethical argument that he’s making remain unchanged. This is more of a technical quibble than a your-ethics-analysis-is-wrong quibble.

        With full respect to you, and respect for your opinions and your person, I think that you are engaged in a sophistical project, as classically defined. The way the denouncement of Stewart was presented mirrors tabloid journalism and Twitter political trash.

        I am not closed to being corrected, so please don’t take it like that, but I am not convinced.

        I suggest that the way the OP was written is unethical IN THE EXTREME and should be described as such.

        • So not even an attempt at rebuttal? Just implied ad hominin and a dash of false comparison. Focus on the argument. You quoted it but never explained why it was wrong. So why is it wrong?

          • There is little to rebut. I stand with my first post on the topic. It is not that a meeting or a few meetings – under the radar shall we say – could not be critiqued, it is possible that they could. But the way the accusations were structured, as I already said, and implications based in innuendo, seem to me similar to cheap journalism.

            In my view it is the comments that have been made after-the-fact (of Jack’s post) that offer a more reasoned critique.

            A search under “Secret meetings Jon Stewart and Obama” pulls up one article after another where the same tropes are rehearsed.

            I do not doubt that the Obama administration has used Stewart and the Media generally for its purposes, and I do not doubt that they exploit Stewart’s lefty-progressive orientation, and I am willing to admit to general corruption that rots our culture, but I suggest that the way Jack plays into that puts his critique on a similar level.

            • I think the fault in your line of reasoning comes because you under-value the appearance of impropriety. Someone who sways public opinion and pretends to maintain an air of journalism (a profession originally meant to INFORM people with simple facts and reporting, and therefore must be wholly unbiased) MUST NOT EVER seem, even one iota, to be in cahoots with the very people they are called on to be critical of, or reporting on.

              A reporter, in a secret meeting (and it was), automatically creates the appearance of impropriety.

              In an appearance of impropriety, the only course of action is to evaluate the situation as though something improper DID OCCUR. Because if nothing improper occurred, an ethical journalist would have disclosed the meeting.

            • I think the fault in your line of reasoning comes because you under-value the appearance of impropriety. Someone who sways public opinion and pretends to maintain an air of journalism (a profession originally meant to INFORM people with simple facts and reporting, and therefore must be wholly unbiased) MUST NOT EVER seem, even one iota, to be in cahoots with the very people they are called on to be critical of, or reporting on.

              There is not a fault in my line of reasoning, my line of reasoning is clear and sound. It is possible to critique special visits to the White House by a public figure with sway, this much has been made clear in the FURTHER comments that were offered.

              This is what I wrote:

              Did I miss something in the article you posted? What I do not understand is how the meeting, or meetings, can or should be described as secret coordination. How do you know that?

              All these statements have semantic value that is questionable:

              “Inner sanctum”
              “Slipping in unnoticed”
              ‘Summoned”
              ‘Hours before the president would go on TV”

              Most if not all of this looks to me like innuendo.

              To then imply – no, state outrightly – that Stewart is engaged in channeling ‘state propaganda’ seems almost libellous, and unethical by conventional standards.
              1) I do not understand how this could be – to use Jack’s word – ‘spun’ to be described as ‘secret coordination’. Did they also discuss the planner US invasion of Texas?

              2) The group of terms and qualifiers used to describe the meeting(s) are semantically laden. These are common, greasy terms that are used in yellow journalism. I believe that they mislead. However, I would not say that it is not possible to critique chumminess between Stewart and Obama.

              I said “most of this looks like innuendo” which is not a “snarky” statement by any means, but an attempt to describe something accurately.

              To say, finally, that State Propaganda had been ‘channeled’ to Stewart is in a category of insinuation that is fully ridiculous. I am pretty sure that Jon Stewart’s ideas and opinions on all matters do not depend on receiving “directives” of “state propaganda” from Obama after having been “summoned” to “secret meetings”.

              • This is pretty funny, Alizia, coming out of an accusation that the post was jumping to conclusions. You just manufactured an army of straw men to completely bury the issue in nonsense.

                Propaganda is government manufactured information designed to sway public opinion. Stewart is an opinion-maker, obviously. Coordination simply suggests the government getting opinion-makers to assist its efforts in persuading the public for political gain. Nobody is talking about invasions. Except you.

                • I would not have said that it was “jumping to conclusions” and instead I said that it was full of semantically- and rhetorically-charged words and phrases that are more properly part-and-parcel, ironically enough, of propaganda pieces.

                  Instead of “burying” the issue I have acceded that it is possible that there may be an issue, an issue that can and should be discussed in language that avoids the tempting rhetoric and charged semantic thrust. As I say: Examine all the various yellow-journalistic articles that come up in a search and they all speak in similar tones.

                  I will certainly grant you that the issue of collusion, or coziness, and ideological partnering or influence-pedelling, and other such things are real concerns. I am not convinced that you have evidence of this in this case, and indeed (in my own case) I become very suspicious when I see issues like this blown up, broadcasted, and exploited for political gain, or maybe only for readership titillation.

                  I would also be concerned for your use of the term “propaganda” here too. Policy decisions, policy thrusts, general plans and programs, popular plans and programs, mandated social programs and that sort of thing, and the focus of an administration on implementing these things, can be entirely legitimate, it seems to me. It is another charged term to describe it as “propaganda”. Policy decisions backed by explanations and declarations of intent might better be described as tactics of persuasion. I think you choose “hot” terms, why I don’t know. That is what confuses me about your discourse, though it is often very thorough and in that appreciated.

                  • Again I ask: what is a plausible innocent explanation? There is none.

                    People are invited to the White House for 5 reasons:

                    1. Because they are pals of the President.
                    A social critic cannot afford to be pals with the people he has to criticize.
                    2. To convey specific expertise. There is nothing Jon Stewart knows that the President needs to know. This is not Albert Einstein.
                    3. To be publicly rewarded or recognized.
                    4. To be privately rewarded for a past of future service. If this is what the meeting was about, it was a quid pro quo. Media figures can not ethical take rewards, or bribes, from those in power.
                    5. To provide a service to the President. In the case of these visits, this is the only likely reason. It is illicit influence. If Stewart was not persuaded, he had a duty to expose the attempt to compromise his integrity, which itself is news.

                    The fact that the meeting was not announced or made public—again, being logged in doesn’t mean the meeting wasn’t secret—tells us everything we need to know to make a fair conclusion, particularlt given the timing, and the fact that Stewart did not come out in his next show slamming the President. In “A Man for All Seasons,” Thomas More accepts a bribe from a litigant and rules against her, then gives the bribe away. The fact that he didn’t provide the quid for the quo was an argument that he hadn’t been corrupted. Stewart delivered his quid.

                    And his silence no speaks volumes.

                    • The fact that Stewart may have in one case properly criticized a friend does not change the general principle that being cozy with the class you are trusted to mock is bad practice. In the case of Weiner, the conduct was so egregious that it couldn’t be ignored. And, thank god, he is not the President of the United States.

                      But I appreciate the research!

                    • I think a more telling part of the article is that Sterwert was summoned to the White House and he felt like he was being called to the principal’s office. Why? If the President called him to the White House to chew him out for something, wouldn’t he put this in his show? What would he have done if George W. Bush summoned him? He probably wouldn’t have gone and would have mocked it on his show. So, the President called him to the office to chew him out for something he said on his show and he says nothing about it. His whole show is supposed to be a criticism of politics and he doesn’t mention the President treating a prominent critics of politics like an employee? That suggest he views himself as someone who works form the President. There is no reasonable explanation why that incident would not be part of his show.

                    • Except the explanation that he was briefed and urged to support an Administration initiative.

                      You are correct: an independent, objective, free-agent, non-partisan truth-teller would have gone on the air and said,

                      “Can you believe this? The President summoned me to his office so he could explain why The Daily Show should pitch its commentary to support his policies! No threats, just nice reasonable arguments from the most powerful man in the world who can have my phone tapped, my taxes audited and my dog killed with a wink. No pressure, though. Well, Mr. President, here’s what I say to that: Eat me. The Daily Show can’t be lobbied, can’t be bribed, can’t be sucked up to and can’t be bought. So just because you tried to make this little show part of your news bullying game, I’m going to spend this show and the next one focusing just on making fun of you!!”.

                      “And I’m hiding my dog.”

                    • If that’s what happened at the WH, Jack, then you’re right that’s what Stewart should have said.

                      But we have no idea if that’s what happened at the WH.

                    • But we know something happened, and he was silent about it. The President has better and more important things to do than to just call in TV comics to chat. As I asked before, give me a benign scenario that would not be publicized.

                    • I said that the meetings look bad. A rational response would be to demand Stewart disclose what went on in those meetings. An irrational response is “State propaganda! Booga booga!”

    • Thinking about Jon Stewart’s ‘position’, I think it is an odd one that defies categories. I began to think about Aristophanes and the sort of license that a comic and a clown employ. It is a powerful and dangerous tool. But terribly effective. And it is always transgressive, thinking of the Trickster myths. I suppose that is one of the reasons why humor is so dangerous to tyrants and dictators. To define his position, which does indeed have a great deal to do with ‘social commentary’, is to probe the meaning and the role of the clown and the jester: that one gains or assumes the right to say things that no mere journalist, or a classically -trained journalist, could say.

      This ‘by the way’.

  3. Jack,
    For two meetings of which we know absolutely nothing about, you seem to make a lot of assumptions as to what happened therein and what it means for any commentary that followed.

    I agree the secrecy is a tad unnerving, but for all we know the two men discussed their favorite rock bands, golf tips, or the best ways to litter-train a cat. Would that, in your view, still relegate any commentary that followed as “state propaganda?”

    Moreover, despite his leftist leanings (which he’s largely open about), what about all the incidents he derided Obama and his administration? Were those part of the master plan? Just a way of pandering to fairness?

    I know there’s no convincing you that most people understand the parts of his act that are jokes and which aren’t (though he often disclaims them as such), but it’s also not really his problem. The show is described as a comedy and airs on a network devoted to such programming, if some of his viewers choose to view it as real news with serious commentary, it speaks more to the idiocy of the population at large than any machiavellian machinations on the part of Stewart.

    Best,
    Neil

    PS: You’re completely off with regard to his intellect. The man is extremely smart, thoughtful, and articulate. He completes the Sunday New York Times Crossword puzzle, reads the majority of his guest’s books (really), and is able to make the depressing state of this world amusing. Disliking him is one thing, but he’s far smarter than you (or most of his detractors) want to give him credit for.

    Also, despite the “faux nature” of his commentary, he asks far more insightful and apropos questions of his guests than MSNBC, CNN, or even Fox.

    • “He completes the Sunday New York Times Crossword puzzle”

      At first I thought this was an attempt to show how smart he is, but then I realized it’s satire.

      Well Done

      • Whateveryourrealnameis,
        Sarcasm is often evidence of a feeble mind trying to belittle what it doesn’t understand — I can only hope such isn’t the case with you. There’s no reason for snideness. If you disagree that it takes intelligence to complete the puzzle (it does) or that he has such intelligence, that’s fair, but you know perfectly well I meant it seriously and can address it as such.

        Then again, hiding behind a keyboard makes assholes of us all.

        Best,
        Neil

        • Wyoming has a small population. A much smaller proportion of Wymingites are grandparents. Fewer still will claim grannyship. It should be easy to find out who I am, I’ll make it even easier by telling you to concentrate on the southwest corner of Wyoming.
          I do love my keyboard it enables me to be an asshole in somewhat less accountable ways. I’m a fan of not being accountable. Just like I love To do the Sunday New York Times Crossword puzzle. I guess I’m also smart. sarcasm unaccountability, reading and the Times crossword are things Jon and I have in common. I have advantage of anonymity.

    • 1. A social critic is obligated to keep a safe distance from potential targets, and an ethical leader is obligated not to try to bias reporters, critics, and pundits.
      2. The secrecy tells me all I need to know. It’s more than “unnerving.” It’s proof that Stewart didn’t want his critics and audience to be aware that he was part of the Obama spin machine.
      3. The claim that Stewart is just a clown is thoroughly discredited at this point. No media critics regard him as such, and its intellectually dishonest to maintain it.
      4. I said nothing about his intellect at all, Neil. I talked about his training. He is not a trained journalist, yet is practicing journalism. Yeah, he’s a smart guy. And he has no more understanding of ethical journalism than my dog.

          • I’m not so sure a majority do understand ethical journalism. Some are sneaking in from the side, like blogs and cable like Stewart, without the training. And how many who might have taken any relevant classes were taught by ethics impaired teachers? Like the general problems with education, too many of the instructors are already ethically rotten. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle.

            It does smack of impropriety, but I’m considering a 1 on 1 chat to be less an issue for someone quitting his platform with health issues. Retirement and a good bye without a big PR announcement could be classy for all his support. I’m more concerned that the President may be recruiting for post-Daily Show opportunities. The Dems have few candidate I’d trust with anything right now.

      • Jack,
        I never said clown; I said comedian — something he continues to call himself even when making “serious” statements. Whatever critics or his audience perceives him as is irrelevant; they’ve been warned.

        Also (and again, I realize none of this will affect you), you haven’t proven that he’s part of a “spin machine,” that’s all supposition. We don’t know what was said in the meeting or even why it was requested but you act as though it’s undeniable proof. I agree it doesn’t pass the smell test, but “not guilty” also doesn’t mean “innocent.”

        Best,
        Neil

        • It does interest me how often to warn against snap judgments and waiting for all the facts to come in before making assumptions, yet you’re just as keen to make such statements when it fits your narrative. How long after first hearing about it did this article go up?

          The story is barely six hours old. Where’s the restraint?

          Whatever,
          Neil

          • Not needed. I’ve had Stewart fans tell me for years that he’s not biased, just an honest guy, calling them as he sees them. Now I find that he has subjected himself to the famously warping magnet of the Presidency, and hid that fact. Tell me, if it has been revealed that Tom Cotton secretly met with Netanyahu before issuing his manifesto against the Iran deal, would you find accusations that he was acting under the influence of and in the interests of a foreign power fair and credible?

            I would.

            • Don’t worry, Neil and Deery would both defend a closed door undisclosed meeting between Rush Limbaugh and George Bush just prior to some serious international decisions…

              They totally would.

            • I would take the opportunity to meet with ANY sitting president, regardless of political affiliation. So would you. So would any rational person.

              The fact that Stewart did not publicize it actually makes me like him more. He didn’t need or want the publicity — especially given that he is intentionally winding down his show and career.

              If we find out that Obama was issuing directives about what Stewart aired on his comedy-show-that-other-people-mistake-for-news, I’m willing to revisit this topic. But even then, what could Obama have done to Stewart if he disobeyed? Drone him? Stewart does what he pleases and he hasn’t always been kind to this administration.

                  • Since you haven’t paid any attention to Jack’s post or any of the half dozen discussions on Jon Stewart and/or jester’s privilege, let me summarize:

                    Stewart constantly bounces between clown nose on and clown nose off. He does engage in journalism and then rapidly pops clown nose on when called on it.

                    It’s plain dishonesty to pretend otherwise. Just a typical tactic of the left.

                  • I have paid attention to them Tex — I’ve disagreed with him on every occasion. This is true whether we are talking about Rs or Ds.

              • I find that his comedy bits are pretty carefully crafted so as not to actually sour anyone on the President, even when appearing critical. It’s pretty obvious, but just clever enough that that his rube fans can keep their delusions about the guy being a truth-teller.

          • Yeah Jack! Get with the picture… These stories that indicate Obama’s administration isn’t competent or trustworthy need to be allowed to fade away. Just leave it alone for awhile. It’s really just Stewartghazi anyway.

            Seriously? Let the story alone? Should the original reporters leave it alone since it’s so soon?

        • 1. Clown/comic/comedian: all synonyms as far as I’m concerned in general usage.
          2. Of course there isn’t proof of what was said in the meeting. The fact of the meeting, and the failure to disclose it, are both unethical. Stewart asks to be trusted that his opinions are his own, and not serving a master. The meetings—the fact of them—-call this into question. Since this implicates trust, he had a duty to disclose. He didn’t. Guilty per se.

  4. President Obama is actively, angrily, pettily hostile towards the “conservative media.” He regularly confers with those on “his side.” The champions of Jon Stewart here who do not see the point- Stewart has been playing them, has a personal, political agenda he’s working on, and is in no way an objective, impartial, wise observer- are just coming across as pathetic.

    • Oh but Isaac! But Isaac! Stewart is just a comedian and everyone who watches him knows that he’s just a comedian and everyone who watches him doesn’t take anything he says seriously. But Isaac! All his viewers never consider him as a news and commentary source with any real impact on their own opinions.

      But Isaac!!!

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